Zoodles

Zoodles2Is it a poodle? Is it a noodle? It’s zucchini noodles!!!!! Or as many like to call them the famous zoodles—perfect for low carb or Paleolithic diets. These surprisingly tasty substitutes for noodles are quicker to cook and full of beneficial nutritional treats. From boring and bland to pizzazz and pop, zoodles add both flavor and color to any dish.

Zucchini provides only 17 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. The peel is good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers. Zucchinis can be available all around the year, but they are at their best during late spring and summer seasons. In the stores, choose small to medium-sized zucchini featuring shiny, bright green skin, firm and heavy in hand. The best size for zucchini is 6 to 8 inches length and 2 inches or less in diameter. Some big sized varieties with marrow are specially grown for stuffing. Minor superficial scratches and mild bruises oftentimes seen on their surface are perfectly fine. Avoid overly mature, large zucchini with pitted skin, and those with flabby or spongy textured. Furthermore, avoid those with soft and wrinkled ends as they indicate old stock.

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Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. For this recipe, use fresher zucchini. Zucchini that has been sitting around becomes too watery and is hard to spiral/peel.
  2. You can use different tools to create zoodles: a sprialer or a ribbed peeler. I used a ribbed peeler.
  3. You can peel the skin off the zucchini, but my preference is to keep it on. It creates a nice contrasting light and dark green of color to the dish.
  4. Sauté the zucchini in a heated pan of olive oil or coconut oil. Start out with less oil than you think you’ll need because you can always add more in.
  5. Toss the zucchini a couple of times while cooking to keep it from burning and cooking through evenly.

ZoodlesZoodles trending popularity comes with the new wave of low carb dietary restrictions and healthier substitutions. Unlike heavy pastas, zoodles offer a low calorie, zero carb vegetable to your plate. Cooked properly, the zucchini turns a vibrant green that makes my heart melt and my mouth water. I love using fresh zucchini from the farmers market because the zucchini tends to be in better form. Whatever your reason, zoodles are a great way to enjoy vegetables and mix up your diet.

Leave a comment with your favorite zoodle addition: meat, sauce, pesto or more the options are endless. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes to try. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Honey-Chipolte Meatballs

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Sweet and spicy with a tangy punch, these honey-chipolte meatballs are a flavor blaster to any dish.  They will ramp up pasta or sandwich.  Within ten minutes, you’ll have a delicious dish that shine.  Turkey is a great substitute to ground beef with less calories and saturated fats; turkey is even juicier than chicken, so the meatballs won’t dry out.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used turkey sausage instead of ground turkey.  Remove the turkey from the casing and it acts just like paged ground turkey.
  2. I added purple peppers to the mix along with onion for an extra crunch.
  3. Instead of cider vinegar, I used red wine vinegar.  You just need the acidity to balance the sweetness of the honey and spiciness of the chilies.
  4. Be sure to brown the meatballs in a pan before placing them in the oven to prevent them from drying out.
  5. Placing them in the oven allows the turkey to cook through without burning the outside.
  6. Be sure not to burn the sauce by constantly stirring the mix of meatballs in the sauce.  Tip the pan to allow the sauce to gather in one spot.  Then, spoon it evenly onto all
    the meatballs.
  7. I used about 2 sausages and made 8 meatballs, about 4 meatballs per sausage.

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These sweet and spicy meatballs will make your mouth sizzle.  They pair well with pasta or as a hoagie with peppers and onion.  It’s a new way to enjoy turkey with flavor that will blow your taste buds away.  Try it the next time you want to spice up your bland pasta.

Leave a comment with how you enjoy ground turkey.  Follow other recipes and dishes on my Pinterest.  Be sure to check back next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Tahini

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I never thought about the ingredients of tahini. It was not until I tried my hand at making hummus that I took a greater look into the ingredients. Surprise, surprise to find the main ingredients listed: sesame seeds, salt and oil–a lot simpler than I had realized. In a few short minutes, I created an ingredient to add flavor to my favorite Middle Eastern dishes.

Tahini is ground sesame seed paste, similar to peanut butter. It is a creamy, oily and smooth nut butter rich in calcium. Tahini is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine and recipes such as hummus, baba ghanoush, halva and vegan or goddess dressing. Plain, unprocessed sesame paste with no added ingredients, like the one mentioned here, is known as “raw” tahini. Like many nut butters, tahini is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and protein. It supports higher levels of fiber than ordinary peanut butter and lower levels of sugar that compliment many nutritional diets.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Use unsalted sunflower seeds. Unsalted seeds allow for you to add salt based on your taste buds.
  2. Roasting the seeds brings forth the nutty flavors that can be hidden.
  3. You can toast them in the oven or stovetop. They take no more than 10 minutes; keep your eyes peeled because they can burn easily.
  4. I used olive oil; blending with olive oil creates an adhesion of creaminess between
    the seeds.
  5. Making your own tahini keeps those pesky preservatives from surfacing into your diet.
  6. Because of tahini’s high oil content, I recommend refrigeration to prevent spoilage.

tahiniTahini possesses the ability to transform many ordinary dishes into extraordinary meals. It works for dressings; it works for dips; it works for flavor. The nutritional information of homemade tahini is leaps and bounds above store bought fakers. Who knew simple ingredients and a simple process could make such a flavorful additive to my Middle Eastern cuisines? I do, and now, you do too!

Leave a comment with your nutty, tahini recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Grilled Halibut with Orange Salsa

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Craving a healthy taco night? Try this grilled halibut w/orange salsa.  It’s simple to make and full of flavor.  From the Jillian Michael’s Master Your Metabolism, you’ll have a quick, easy, delicious and healthy meal.

Fish is a great source of protein and healthy omega-3 fats that we so desperately need.  Jillian notes that we should have a type of fish almost daily.  Fish provides a low calorie meal, healthy fats, and a fresh taste.  The thing to love most about this recipe is that you can curve those
taco cravings.

For 300 calories you can make four delicious servings.  Mix 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp lime juice, salt, pepper, and 4 halibut fillets (6ozeach).  Grill them.  Meanwhile mix 2 oranges, 2 limes, cilantro, garlic, 1 tsp rice vinegar, salt, pepper, 1 Serrano chile, and 1 tbsp olive oil.  Add the two together and place on top of corn tortillas.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Mix the fish in the Ziploc bag well to make sure the spices get equally incorporated among the fillets.  If you don’t use a bag you can brush the seasonings on liberally.
  2. I cooked the halibut stovetop for around 10-15 minutes instead of grilling it.  I find fish hard to grill because it begins to fall apart.
  3. When making the salsa be ready for your hands to get juicy.  Try to save as much of that juice as possible by scooping it into the bowl you mix the salsa in.
  4. Since limes have such a hard skin, I just used their juice in the mixture rather than cutting them up.
  5. I nixed the cilantro because I am not a fan, but it will add a fresher taste to the dish.
  6. Cut the Serrano peppers into small, tiny, minced pieces.  You don’t want any large chunks in a bite.
  7. Let the salsa stand alone for about 5-10 minutes, mixing every once in a while to allow the flavors to absorb.
  8. I cooked the fish and salsa the night before, mixing them together and setting them in the fridge.  This step kept them cool and let the flavors really sink in.

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Remember that fish is only good for about a day after cooking, so don’t make too much too quickly or it will go bad.  Buy the fish the day of cooking so that it is the freshest piece.  Fresh fish will have the skin that will need to be removed after cooking; however, you can find frozen halibut without skin.  Just remember that fresher is better.  In a few minutes you have a tasty, healthy taco that will fill your stomach and keep you on track.  It’s fresh and light but filling to the bone.

Leave a comment with your fishy thoughts.  Check out my Pinterest.  Be sure to come back next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The
Cooking Bug.

Sushi Trifle

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Deconstructed sushi! I love enjoying sushi at restaurants; however, rolling sushi can be time consuming and takes technique. The sushi trifle satisfies taste without the inconvenience of rolling. It can be plated to impress or mixed for ultimate enjoyment. Mix and match various flavors and ingredients to match sushi at
famous restaurants.

Sushi is a $14 billion industry in Japan. There are types of sushi to fit every taste–vegetables, raw fish, cooked fish and meat are common ingredients. The original type of sushi, known today as nare-zushi, was first made in Southeast Asia, possibly along what is now known as the Mekong River. The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts. Literally, sushi means “sour-tasting”, a reflection of its historic fermented roots. The oldest form of sushi in Japan, narezushi, still very closely resembles this process, wherein fish is fermented via being wrapped in soured fermenting rice. The fish proteins break down via fermentation into their constituent amino acids. The fermenting rice and fish results in a sour taste and one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I replaced the sushi rice with white rice. Brown and sticky rice work as replacements.
  2. The crumbled nori provides the full sushi roll flavor. It is salty and tastes best when slightly softened.
  3. I nixed the wasabi sauce because I prefer my food non-spicy.
  4. You can stack the ingredients in any fashion. For formal meals and fancy plating, use a clear wine glass and stack the ingredients in layers as seen.
  5. In the future, I suggest mixing the ingredients in a bowl to have all the flavors in
    each bite.
  6. Be sure to cook the salmon unless the sushi deconstruction is calling for raw meat. Be advised as to meats that can be eaten raw and those that need to be cooked.

Sushi has a long history throughout Asia. Methods have changed and contemporized allowing for variety and maximum flavor. While tackling sushi rolls may be challenging, sushi trifles complete flavor and ease. Mix and match favorite sushi rolls to triumph.

Leave a comment with your favorite Asian dishes. Follow my Pinterest. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Pesto and Halibut

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As we all know, fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.  But, fish can be, well, fishy with its bland flavor and slimy coating.  However, cooked properly and seasoned gracefully fish can be quite tasty and satisfying to your taste buds.  Halibut fits into these categories.

The pesto that I created was so delicious that it couldn’t be too nutritious.  Yet, when using fresh ingredients with no added preservatives and in moderation, anything can be healthy.  The pesto adds a nice flavor that tames the fishiness of the Halibut.  It can be used as a topping to any fish of your choice, tossed in with sautéed vegetables, added with spaghetti squash or with another dish of your imagination.

What you’ll need:

2 cups basil;   3 garlic cloves;   ½ cup walnut pieces;   ½ cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese;   1 tsp lemon juice;   salt & pepper;   ¾ cup olive oil

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. I chopped my basil so that it would be easier to blend, but you can keep yours whole.
  2. You can use walnuts or pine nuts in a 1-to-1 ratio for your pesto.  I think walnuts give it a softer taste than pine nuts which are a bit more robust ground up.
  3. Add everything to the food processor except the olive oil.  Adding the olive oil separate allows for it to incorporate the ingredients evenly.pestoshrimpcaulipizza2
    4.  Add the olive oil slowly while the ingredients are blending.  Again, this process allows for an even incorporation of ingredients.
    5.  Blend for 30 seconds after adding the olive oil making sure to scrape the sides to create a more pastier pesto.
    6.  You can use Manchego or another type of cheese in replacement to the Parmesan.

If you are a pesto lover like myself, you’ll have no problem taking nibbles to make sure your seasoning is perfect before topping your food.  Remember, since pesto has so much olive oil that you will need to mix it before using it each time or the ingredients will separate.  Also, keep in mind that a little goes a long way so use the pesto sparingly.  Now, all that you have to do is top your fish or main dish with a tablespoon of pesto and enjoy.

Leave a comment with your pesto pairings.  Follow my Pinterest for more delicious recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Sirloin Burger w/Cilantro Cumin Sauce

sirloinburgerw:cuminjalapenosauce2

You might be negotiating with the fact that most doctors recommend staying away from red meats.  While that may be the case, you need to constantly be changing your dietary foods.  Don’t go crazy now that you know the secret, but keep it in mind that a little red meat won’t hurt.  And what can be made best with red meat?  A grilled and juicy burger!

Now, this sirloin burger comes with a punch in the sauce department.  If you’re like me, a little spice can go a long, long way; however, I’ve been learning with Jillian Michael’s Master Your Metabolism recipes that spice is the new black.  It seems that she wants to kick your butt into gear and spice up not only workouts but recipes as well.  This sirloin burger w/cumin jalapeño sauce does her justice.

For these 430 calorie burgers serving four you’ll need, 3 jalapeños, cilantro, garlic, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp cumin, 2 tbsp water, salt, pepper, olive oil for brushing, 4 slices pepper jack cheese, and 1½ lbs sirloin.  Along with those ingredients you’ll need lettuce, tomato, and 1 slice of bread for serving compliments.  Knead the sirloin, ½ cilantro, and ½ tsp cumin for your burgers.  After cooking add your sliced cheese.  All the rest of the ingredients are blended for the sauce.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used a piece of pepper jack on top of the burger.  Incorporating it into the burger will help as a binding factor, but since we’re using sirloin the meat compacts and holds
    well already.
  2. Make sure to wash your hands after handling the jalapenos.  **AT NO TIME SHOULD YOU WIPE YOUR FACE OR EYES**
  3. I used a food processor in place of a blender because it’s what I had on hand and I believe they work a little better.
  4. Blend the sauce a few times before taking it out making sure to scrape the sides each time.  This process will prevent large chunks from developing.
  5. I cooked my burgers in the oven instead of the grill only because Arizona can be too hot in the summer standing next to a grill.sirloinburgerw:cuminjalapenosauce

Beware that the sauce is spicy, but it adds a punch of flavor to the burger.  Don’t be hesitant to spread some all over the top.  Even for me, a wimp in the spiciness department went all out.  It evens the flavors and give the burger an
extra UMPH!

Leave a comment on how you handle your spice.  Be sure to follow my Pinterest.  Check back next Wednesday for more tips from The Cooking Bug.